Anthology celebrates Toulmin Prize winners

The winners of an annual prize which celebrates the best of Doric writing will be showcased in a new anthology launched tomorrow (Thursday November 18).

Published by the University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute, the book brings together the work of every winner of the Toulmin prize since its inception in 2008, together with other selected stories.

Entitled, Dinna Mess wi the Popo, after the winning 2019 story about a grandmother affectionately named PoPo who sees off a brawl in the family’s Buckie-based Chinese takeaway, the anthology is an exploration of the complexities of identity in the north-east of Scotland in the 21st Century.

The annual Toulmin prize is a short-story competition commemorating the work of one of north-east Scotland’s finest exponents of written Doric, David Toulmin.

It has inspired a wide-range of creative writing in a mixture of Doric and English over the years, much with a focus on a sense of place.

Dr Tom McKean, Director of the University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute said: “It gives us great pleasure to introduce this collection. Reading through them may give us some impression of how we see ourselves in the North-East in the early years of the 21st century but, more importantly, they demonstrate the contribution that the Toulmin Prize Competition has made to preserving and promoting the difficult and delightful art of the short story.

“The stories cover the whole range of human behaviour and emotions. They are sad and funny, tragic, nostalgic, whimsical, moving. Like Toulmin’s stories, they eschew sentimentality. The authors address issues of birth and death, war, love and loss, and sexual identity.  Some reflect on relationships within the family.

“Two stories recreate, very powerfully, aspects of the fishing communities of Fraserburgh and Peterhead, respectively, and address the need for an individual to escape. Another is a thoughtful recreation, from the perspective of an elderly survivor, of an interview with a journalist on her memories of the Aberdeen blitz of 1943. Present aspects of the immigrant experience in the north-east, in highly skilled, humorous, and moving ways are brought to the reader elsewhere.”

Dinna Mess wi the Popo is supported by The Doric Board and is available directly from University of Aberdeen online store, (ISBN 978-1-85752-077-4, RRP: £9.99)